The Art of Confidence |Audrey-Laure Bergenthal at Euveka

In part one of my conversation with Audrey-Laure Bergenthal, the founder and CEO of Euveka, she discussed the inspiration behind the Biomimetic Robot Mannequin, a mannequin that can transform its shape to reproduce a wide range of body types to help clothing designers.

In this second part of our conversation, Audrey-Laure talks about some of the challenges she overcame starting her company, and she offers a glimpse of where she thinks the world of retail is headed in the future.

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After hearing numerous complaints of her mother who could not easily find garments that would fit her well. Audrey-Laure Bergenthal realized that garments for the whole planet were made out of one single wooden mannequin dating back to the 19th century. These did not resemble anyone and prompted her to create the first biometric robot-mannequin with instant shape shifting.

Audrey-Laure Bergenthal chose not to pursue her law studies at Harvard and instead to study Fashion Design and Modeling at the Formamod School of Paris in 2008 to learn the profession of its future users and develop industry skills. During 5 years she worked as a product manager in the fashion and luxury apparel sector. Working as a University Lecturer at Science-Po Paris and a consultant in fashion innovation strategy she set out to self-finance her project. 

Audrey-Laure created Euveka in 2011. With the filing of a technological patent and industrial partners to initiate the project. She led the first fundraising in 2015 to launch a prototype of a robot-mannequin, assemble a team and devote entirely to Euveka. With the success of this Fashion Technology concept, second fundraising was undertaken in 2017 to industrialize the solution. As a result of 7 years of R&D, Euveka’s women-connected model is a technological innovation designed to adapt as closely as possible to the evolution of the human body, according to age or morphotypes.

DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!

Audrey-Laure Bergenthal 0:00
I think the biggest issue that I face is that I lacked faith at the beginning and and the thing is really about trusting yourself and trusting your gut because you don’t know why. But intuitively you know what is good for you as you know what is good for your child. In the same way you know what is good for your company, so you have first to listen to yourself.

Alexander Ferguson 0:29
In part one of my conversation with Audrey Bergenthal, the founder and CEO of Euveka, she discussed the inspiration behind the biomimetic robot mannequin, a mannequin that can transform its shape to reproduce a wide range of body types to help clothing designers. In this second part of our conversation, Audrey talks about some of the challenges she’s overcome in starting her company. And she offers a glimpse of where she thinks the world of retail is headed in the future. Adri to continue our conversation. This has been a quite a journey for the past nine years, a lot of r&d, you’re excited for now expansion and growth and then a challenges with COVID-19 and having to adjust and keep innovating. Tell me how, what’s let’s, let’s look in the past nine, eight years. First, before we get to today’s challenges, what’s one difficulty as a technology leader as a as a fast anyone who’s who taken it from from concept idea to noun delivery to products, what’s something that you can share with another leader, that you were able to overcome a challenge you were able to overcome, that they could learn from

Audrey-Laure Bergenthal 1:36
the biggest challenge well, is to find the right people that will help you make your idea concrete and and become something real. And and you need to find as passionate people as you are and and that was at first quite a challenge. But hopefully I met a wonderful core team. And then the the other big challenges of course, for every startup needs to have access at the proper time to to enough and sufficient fundings because you can have the greatest idea with no petrol to fueling, then there will be no growth. And in France and Europe, we are seen as an industrial player, and it’s hard to find invention in Europe when when you are an industrial player, but now with the COVID prices, they have understood that you cannot kill the industry, you just really very needed. And, and you are so generous to be to be dependent on China and other powerful countries. And and I think it may be same in the US. But now Europe, Israel is very convinced that we need to reindustrialize and to master our own process locally. And and I hope then we will have the opportunity to be as funded as pure digital players, startups,

Alexander Ferguson 3:18
that journey that you’ve been on of finding the right team, then being able to find the right funds, and depending on your classification, the difficulties there, and how that might change going future going into the future? Can you share any tactical advice of what you did that works? Either for finding good team members to just the beginning, or to find funding a tactic that they’re like, oh, yeah, this this worked for us?

Audrey-Laure Bergenthal 3:43
Um, I think the main thing, but maybe you’re more used to it in the US because you are you’re trying to have faith in yourself. And we are we have a more humble and modest approach. I mean, in France, and and I think the biggest issue that I face is that I lacked faith at the beginning. And, and the thing is really about trusting yourself and trusting your gut, because you don’t know why. But intuitively, you know, what is good for you, as you know, what is good for your child? In the same way, you know, what is good for your company, so you have first to listen to yourself. But at the same time, you have also to be kind of schizophrenic, and and be able also to listen to people’s criticism and make a compromise because you’re not always right. They can be right and sometimes even when it hurts, and you don’t want to hear it, you need to hear it and make the change you don’t want to do

Alexander Ferguson 4:45
now moving forward, you move from r&d to you went to CES and you were able to get a lot of interest from there. Can you share any tactical advice from that of being able to get awareness out there in the marketplace and get your first couple clients because there’s a lot entrepreneurs that they got the idea and they they ready to push, but how do I actually get my first customer but first client,

Audrey-Laure Bergenthal 5:09
um, I think you have to be you have to be demanding and and and you have to dare to, to target immediately major brands and because major brands are major because they are innovative. So you have to go big at start don’t think that it’s better to start with a small and anonymous client no go be at start

Alexander Ferguson 5:39
go bigger go home as they say

Audrey-Laure Bergenthal 5:41
exactly and every time if I should sum up my my entrepreneur journey would be go big or go home. It’s every time what we want. Want to do.

Alexander Ferguson 5:52
Wow. And that ties back to you have to have that confidence and in yourself to say no, I know this product will work so I’m going to go all the way out and and tell the world

Audrey-Laure Bergenthal 6:03
yes, we are very frightened. The first time we did ever Shana because Chanel is our first customer and we were it was our first production. And we we had shaking hands and and and we were sweating and like oh my god, is it gonna work and it was terrible. But at the same time, it was the best thing we have ever done. Everybody said no, no, don’t choose Chanel at start, don’t choose Chanel, they are too big, but it’s the best thing we’ve done. Because immediately we we had a reputation and and and people were impressed even though of course I started we had problem and we had to fix them. But still we were fixing problem at Chanel,

Alexander Ferguson 6:45
obviously with the current pandemic and the situation the new, the new normal that comes from this, what do you see the hurdles that you’re going to need to overcome. Now going forward?

Audrey-Laure Bergenthal 6:56
First, we need we need to find additional additional financial support to be to remain stable and able to follow the rhythm of brands because we don’t know how much time they will recover and when they will or be able to speed up again. And and what we need to do in the meantime is to build a proper COVID crisis offers that we fit in their budget, because it’s the only way for us to survive. So we need to be very reactive and responsive and try to find a way to to work with them anyway. And the only thing I can see

Alexander Ferguson 7:44
it I’ve seen a lot of of technology companies where we’re in overall companies have to figure out how do I weather this this storm in an essence of being able to get over the hump but also be able to keep providing value so you stay top of mind and and can build the base not ideally the revenue sources that you originally desired. But ideally can come out stronger at the at the end of this what do you look for for, for innovation and support and motivation as a as a business leader are there any books that you’ve read or podcasts that you listen to or, or places you go to for for insight.

Audrey-Laure Bergenthal 8:23
And at first to to build my motivation and my strengths I read books about about mentors. And trainers of Olympic players I read in Search of Excellence are books like that, the way that US sport players are trained, and mentally prepared to to face hurdles, that was the best book I’ve ever read. And I read tons of them. Because I think be trying to build a successful company is like a long race. A long run. But still you have to go fast for it, it’s really challenging. And we have to have really a strong mindset and be strong mentally and I could only find support in these kind of books. And then I read traditional books and and studies from the Harvard Business reviews to to any kind of publication about Mart business model in the digital world and everything that I I could read to to to to nurture my my my vision and my operation plan and to make my own mixture and apply to my company. What

Alexander Ferguson 9:46
kind of tech nology innovations do you predict that we will see in the near term and in the long term overall across industries what innovations do you see in the near term so next year so and long term like the next 10 In years,

Audrey-Laure Bergenthal 10:02
and in a very near term, I think we will see, we will see more technology about enriching the retail experience and, and helping to, to have more sensation about where what is what can be the customer journey, when it comes to online purchase, we will see new technology that will maybe helped you have the sensation of the material, haptic technology that will give you the insight of how the, the material good would would feel, and that maybe you could touch your phone and you will have the sensation of the of the fabric, you could have also technology that will also I really do believe in holograms, and maybe we could expect popping from your phone and hologram helping you visualize how you look like while trying on this garment on Amazon. And and maybe have some and of course, we will have some drone delivery at home. And in the next 10 years, I think we will have less screen. And I think that people will be fed up of having of being merging screen. And and and I think that will have not like a step back but in a way and customers will be we will be willing to have more multisectorial is experiment. So it means that what I just previously described about a haptic experience hologram, sound experience sound immersive experiment and so on. I think we will be blend in a more fully technological world. But it won’t be only on screen. It will be with I don’t know hologram or are with IoT objects that will I don’t know maybe have automated process that will help you be discharge of repetitive tasks or maybe even be able to anticipate I asked him that on the car that your fridge can already edit your list of missing products that you need to buy. And I think this maybe you have a baby and they will say they will indicate to you that your baby has grown your children has grown and you need to buy new clothes and they will indicate new clothes that fit us and you will have a very rapid selection and then it will be ordered and delivered instantly at home.

Alexander Ferguson 12:47
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